The Tick vs. Season One
Emru Townsend · September 13, 2006 | By rights, I'm not even supposed to like The Tick. Nothing about the art or animation are particularly accomplished and it's extremely talky. But I laughed my head off with every episode when it made its debut on Fox Kids in 1994, and now, twelve years later, watching the first season's episodes (minus "The Tick vs. the Mole Men," inexplicably) on The Tick vs. Season One, I'm laughing just as hard.

The Tick is a large blue superhero who doesn't seem to have a secret identity (we never see him out of costume); his main powers are incredible strength, nigh-invulnerability, and a reserve of cluelessness that is only matched by his enthusiasm for justice and propensity for declarations like, "Some people are destined for greater things. Arthur, you are one of those people. You can't hide from it. You've got to hug it. Hug your destiny, Arthur! Hug it." This bit of inspiration is directed to Arthur, aka The Moth, a mild-mannered accountant who semi-willingly becomes the Tick's sidekick. Arthur's wants to experience the superhero life, but the battle cry he later settles on, "Not in the face!" hints at his ambivalence in this endeavour.

The Tick vs. Season One
Animation production by Akom Production Company

Produced by Graz Entertainment and Sunbow Productions, 1994

Distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2006

252 minutes

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The Tick and Arthur are sworn protectors of The City, along with a number of other costumed characters, who are all along the twin axes of absurdity and competence: Die Fliedermaus, a Batman analogue whose cowl is a bit more anatomically correct; American Maid, a cross between Wonder Woman and Captain America; and Big Shot, a Punisher type who cries tears of almost ecstatic joy when he starts shooting.

With its heavy reliance on dialogue and conceptual gags, The Tick's humour occupies that space between the dimbulb-superhero territory that Mad magazine's gang of idiots mapped out with Superduperman in 1953 and the dry, acerbic, goofy wit of the Monty Python troupe. This is entirely in keeping with the original Tick comic book. Characters found themselves in absurd situations and said absurd things, with creator Ben Edlund merrily poking fun at the most popular superhero icons of the day—ninjas, samurai, and the gritty urban hero. At first, however, the style was perfunctory—Edlund was a better-than-average draughtsman, but that was it. His characters were stiff, his backgrounds sparse. And it didn't matter in the least, because the comic was so damn funny, generating catchphrases and in-jokes among the cognoscenti like "nigh-invulnerable," "Wub! Wub! Wub!" and, of course, "Spoon!"

In a sense, The Tick is perhaps the most faithful comic-book adaptation ever. Unlike Batman: The Animated Series and its descendants, its style nearly perfectly mimicked the source material—small wonder, considering the comic's creator worked on the show in various capacities. Because of Edlund's lo-fi aesthetic, The Tick joins the ranks of The Bullwinkle Show, The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Family Guy as a show that violates most of the criteria for what makes good animation, but in so doing adheres to the creator's vision—a vision that more than a few viewers are happy to share.

DVD Features: 4:3 aspect ratio; English and French language tracks; French subtitles; Region 1.
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